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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 17:37 GMT
Driving test for Masai warriors
Samburu Masai warrior, Mathew Laigwanani, 24, and  Kaseti Lesengei, 31
Dual steering: Samburu Masai Mathew Laigwanani and Kaseti Lesengei
Two Masai warriors used to driving only cattle and goats have to learn how to drive on UK roads before they return to Kenya.

Mathew Laigwanani, 24, and Kaseti Lesengei, 31, have to pass their test by 27 December when they will go home with two vans donated by well-wishers and packed with goods for their villages.

The pair are visiting Wales thanks to a cultural exchange set up by an Afan Valley couple who have "adopted" their tribe.

Under the project run by John and Margaret Walters, of Pontrhydyfen, near Neath, Mathew and Kaseti have been to almost three dozen schools in south Wales to give youngsters a glimpse of their lives in the bush.

When these boys told me about where they came from, I wanted to find out more
John Walters

The two men are from the Samburu district of northern Kenya, where the lion story Born Free was filmed.

Mr and Mrs Walters met them while holidaying on the beach in Kenya two years ago and have gone on to "adopt" their tribe, the Samburu Masai are second poorest of the country's 46 tribes.

The couple, who run a garden centre business, this summer brought over a choir of 20 Samburu Masai children who came fourth in the children's folk dance category at the Llangollen's International Musical Eisteddfod.

Mr Walters, 62, said: "I've always been in mountain farming so when these boys told me about where they came from, I wanted to find out more.

Samburu Masai warrior, Mathew Laigwanani, 24
Masai man: Mathew shows the clothes he wears at home in Kenya

Mrs Walters said: "The Samburu Masai are a very sociable people, they are a lot like the Welsh."

The charity which organises the visit, Celtic Cultural Exchange, plans to send a party of teenagers to Kenya next year to help build a workshop in each warrior's home village.

Goods to be taken to Kenya include children's school uniforms, mobile phones, computers and sewing machines.

Mathew and Kaseti are already taking driving lessons and next week begin a course in vehicle maintenance at Neath College.

Mathew, who has learnt English and some Welsh as part of his stay, said: "Nobody in my village has a vehicle."

Kaseti, who is to be married next year, with Mathew as his best man, said: "I can use the van to take to take people to hospital when they are ill."




SEE ALSO:
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